A Rich Legacy
Every great story has a special origin, even if it comes from modest beginnings. But what all great stories have in common is that their profound influence on history often happens in ways that weren’t even visible at the time. That’s true for this story, which stretches back to the 1920s and forward into the future.
The following pictures tell the extraordinary tale of what it is like to transform, to have an impossible vision and manage to change the future of medicine for Southeast Texas for the betterment of an entire community.
Nearly 90 years ago, the Sisters ministering in Beaumont answered the call of Port Arthur City leaders and Mary Gates Hospital to establish and maintain a new hospital there. In 1930, St. Mary hospital opened its doors to serve Port Arthur residents, and became a compassionate part of the fabric of the community and families’ lives for decades.
Revolutionary medicine was introduced to Port Arthur, Texas on a March 17, 1929, a chilly and windy Sunday.
The pictures we have from that day show a community huddled together for the breaking of the ground and a blessing. Women wear bonnets and men in fedoras.
Just two years earlier, a letter had been sent to the Mother Superior at the St. Mary’s Hospital in Galveston.
The Young Men’s Business League asked the Sisters to establish a hospital in their community of Port Arthur, Texas, “The City of Wonderful Opportunity.” They wanted to convince the Sisters to be part of what at the time was one of the more modern and spacious hospitals in Texas.
Another year would pass before favorable and official word would return. Yes, that hospital would come to Port Arthur.
They began as a 150-bed hospital with 21 patients. St. Mary continued to flourish over the years, expanding in the 1950’s, 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s to accommodate the growing need for more patient beds and more modern and advanced services.
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. – Ecclesiastes 3:1
For CHRISTUS St. Mary that is certainly one of the more philosophical yet meaningful extracts from the Bible. It could not be more appropriate in the telling of the experience of this hospital through the years.
As the health care leader in South Jefferson County, St. Mary brought many firsts to the area, including the very first open heart surgery. These decades brought countless notable highlights and celebrations as well as employment for nearly 1,300 as the hospital became woven into the fabric of the rich and growing Port Arthur community.
We’ve heard story after story of the delicious hamburgers St. Mary became famous for, bringing folks into the hospital just to grab a family meal. To the Sisters throwing late night parties on the rooftop, to the elaborate pageantry of hospital week celebrations that brought 500+ attendees. We know family after family who share in the nostalgia of their grandparents, parents, themselves and their very own children all being born here. This place is a family, and because of this, we will forever be part of each other’s lives.
During the hospital’s Golden Jubilee in 1980, The Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word held a special blessing. The small and modest booklet created for the event details all the valuable details, history and prayerful thoughts that prove to be so important. They are the small details that can sometimes get lost over time.
At the end of that small booklet, the Sisters look to the next season of their legacy in delivering health care services. They were always looking for new strategies in developing a healing ministry that would be most impactful and meaningful to the people they serve.
Now more than 89 years later, we are doing the same thing. We are in our next season of delivering exceptional health care to Southeast Texas as we look forward to the future of our ministry.
CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System will transition services from St. Mary hospital, located on Gates Blvd., as we focus our ministry where patients are already choosing to receive their care.
We’re proud to serve those needs. To offer a continued investment into the community.
We’ve invested more than $10 million in the new CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Outpatient Center Mid County, which features a 24/7 emergency center, laboratory, imaging, hyperbaric and wound care, therapies, infusion services and more.
The opening of the CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Outpatient Center Mid County in 2017 paved the way to meet the needs of our Port Arthur, Nederland, Groves and Port Neches communities. Further, to honor the legacy of St. Mary, we will be renaming this center to incorporate the St. Mary name so that it lives on as we continue to serve patients at this location, now and into the future.
Not only that, but we’ve also invested $2.5 million in the region’s only Level III NICU in 2018 at CHRISTUS Southeast Texas St. Elizabeth,
and added 3D mammography technology and expanded surgeries to CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Jasper Memorial.
This strategy in our healing ministry includes an emphasis on outpatient settings, as many residents choose clinics and outpatient centers for their care.
As medicine and technology advance, many of the procedures that once required being admitted into a hospital for long stays have shifted to outpatient procedures, offering shorter recovery times and no hospital stays.
“Over the years, St. Mary has experienced decreasing demand for inpatient care, with 98% of the care provided on an outpatient basis,” said Ryan Miller, President, Ambulatory Services and St. Mary hospital. “While our inpatient usage has declined to the point where continuing to provide services is unsustainable, we’ve been pleased to see the outpatient services we are providing our community through our newest center exceed our expectations.”
Many area residents now utilize outpatient services at the new Outpatient Center in Mid County, which features a 24/7 emergency center, laboratory, imaging, hyperbaric and wound care, therapies, infusion services and more. The opening of the CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Outpatient Center Mid County in 2017 paved the way to meet the needs of our Port Arthur, Nederland, Groves and Port Neches communities. Further, to honor the legacy of St. Mary, we will be renaming this center to incorporate the St. Mary name so that it lives on as we continue to serve patients at this location, now and into the future.
“Over the last decade, there has been a major shift of patients moving their care from inpatient to outpatient settings, and as we grow our ministry, we intend to answer that call and continue to deliver high-quality, compassionate and convenient health care,” said Paul Trevino, President and CEO of CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System.
It will continue to be our pleasure, as CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System continues to transform, that the community can continue to rely on the distinguishable and excellent quality it has provided its patients for more than 120 years, and its mission to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.
“The future of CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Health System relies on providing high-quality, and compassionate care in an ever-changing health care landscape to meet the needs and preferences of the patients we are privileged to serve,” Trevino added. “We are grateful for our history in this community and look ahead to the next century of service.”